Dover Win

Smith Wins At Dover

On a rainy day in Delaware, Regan Smith and the Fire Alarm Services Chevrolet opened up a big can of sunshine by winning the Hisense 200 and jumping squarely back into the hunt for the NASCAR XFINITY Series championship.

Solid pit strategy that allowed him to race with the lead despite a dwindling supply of fuel as the laps wound down helped Smith earn his second NXS victory of the season and the sixth of his career, and it put him into third place in the series points, just 36 behind leader Chris Buescher and 12 markers behind JRM teammate Chase Elliott. The six career victories for JRM ties him with Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski for the most in team history and he has two multi-win seasons in three for JRM.

Smith took the lead for the first time on lap 121, just after the final restart of the race, and held off Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch over the final 80 laps to earn the 26th victory for JR Motorsports. Once Smith was able to use the clean air that comes with being the leader, he was in the wind and worked traffic and fuel-saving all the way to Victory Lane.

It wasn’t without some drama, however, as Smith last brought the Fire Alarm Services Camaro down pit lane under caution on lap 110. He came off fourth, gaining one spot thanks to a blistering stop by the No. 7 crew, and just after the field formed up again, a light rain began to fall. The red flag came out on lap 115 and stayed out for 30 minutes, which set up what turned out to be the final restart of the race on lap 120.

On that restart, Hamlin spun his tires, which allowed Smith to clear him on the high side and stalled the lower line. That put Smith on the rear bumper of leader Elliott Sadler, who had taken two tires on the pit stop. One lap later, Smith dived past Sadler into the lead and he held it to the finish. Hamlin, also conserving fuel toward the end, gave a couple of hard pushes for the lead, mostly in traffic, but couldn’t get past. HE got under Smith heading into Turn 1, but Smith was able to keep him behind and stretched the lead even more after that. Crew chief Jason Burdett played the strategy out to the hilt, telling Smith to start saving a little bit of fuel over the final 15 laps, and it was enough to earn a victory. It was JRM’s first triumph at Dover since Keselowski won back in 2009.

Early in the race, there was a scare when Smith reported the left rear tire was flat. Having just come to pit road under caution, Smith picked up some debris from a crash and cut it, necessitating another trip down pit road to replace the left-side tires. He restarted 24th and worked his way back near the front in relatively short order.
Hamlin was second, followed by Busch, Ryan Blaney and Kyle Larson.

Regan Smith, driver No. 7 Fire Alarm Services team
“The restart was the key. I just wanted to be on the outside of the 54 [Busch] going into Turn 1, but I guess the 20 [Hamlin] spun his tires. When the 1 [Sadler] took off, I took off. I thought I was going to pass the 1 before we even got to the first turn. He was on two [tires], so I knew I would have the opportunity to pass him a little bit later on. Once I got to the lead and the clean air, it was great. I set sail, and they made a charge at me at one point in lapped traffic when I got jammed up a little. I was able to pinch Denny down on the bottom just a little and keep it out in front of him. It was fun racing him, but I was glad to have that 10-car-length gap coming to the white flag. I didn’t really want to duke it out if I didn’t have to. I am so proud of this race team and all the guys on the Fire Alarm car. They have worked really hard all year long. It has been a long time coming on the ovals for us this year. We’ve had some good cars, but hadn’t sealed the deal. I was proud to be able to do it today. It was nice to lead a lot of laps, show a little muscle. Holding off two JGR cars, and Kyle Busch is the man here…I didn’t know if we could run with them, but I wanted to get back to them to see where our car stacked up. Any time you beat them at Dover, you’ve worked your tail off. I know how hard my team has been working on these cars, the amount of effort they put in every week. We feel like we’ve had four or five of these to this point in the year, and circumstances have made us finish third or second. This is a big deal for us.”

Regan Smith Race Report:
Hisense 200

  Start 8th
  Finish 1st
  Laps Completed (Led) 200 of 200 (80)
  Points (Bonus) 47 (4)
  Standings (From Leader) 3rd (-36)
  Condition (Status) Running